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Nigeria commits N4.5bn to tackle AIDS, TB and Malaria

Nigeria has retreated commitment to tackle AISD, tuberculosis and malaria in the country

Nigeria’s Expert Review Committee on Polio Eradication and Routine Immunization has concluded that the country could stop polio virus transmission by mid-2011 if it were to intensify and upgrade its eradication programme, and build on the significant progress it has made.

A UNICEF statement released weekend noted that the Committee revealed that the incidence of wild poliovirus infection dropped an unprecedented 98 per cent since 2009.

During its 20th meeting in Abuja last week, the report said the Committee noted that the drop has been one of the most dramatic reductions in poliovirus circulation seen in any endemic country in the history of the polio eradication Nigeria had had a total of 376 cases in 2009 but only eight cases at 4 October 2010.

It is thanks to the sustained engagement of political and traditional leaders and the strong direction of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency that poliovirus transmission is now at the lowest level ever seen in Nigeria.

This effort was significantly supported by international partners like UNICEF, WHO, Rotary International, the Gates Foundation, US-CDC, USAID, World Bank and the German and Japanese governments.

• Nigeria is targeting the distribution of atleast two Long- Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLITNs) per household by December 31st, 2010.

But the battle against polio isn’t quite won yet: significant programme gaps must be addressed to stop transmission—and there have to be zero cases for at least three years for Nigeria to be certified polio-free.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Suomi Sakai said: “We have reason to celebrate, the amount has been accessed due to reasons ranging from time lags in accepting proposals, to delays by Principal Recipients in reporting implementation as well as the time required to audit performance reports by the Global Fund.

Noting that the latest pledge brings Nigeria’s total contribution to the Fund to $30 million, Chukwu noted that Nigeria has benefitted enormously from the support of the Fund for rapid scale-up of interventions in its response to AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria as well as in health systems strengthening.

He said the gains of the Global Fund have contributed immensely to progress made towards achievement of the health MDGs. Currently in Nigeria, 107,122 People Living With HIV & AIDS (PLWA) are on Anti-Retroviral Therapy; 90,078 new smear-positive TB cases have been detected and treated, while 7,452,173 insecticide treated long lasting nets have been distributed with support of the Fund.

Secretary-General of the UN ,Mr Ban Ki-Moon who chaired the pledging session said “programmes supported by the Global Fund have saved an estimated 5.7 million lives. They have provided AIDS treatment for 2.8 million people; TB treatment for 7 million people and distributed 122 million bed nets to prevent malaria.”

But he noted that although much has been achieved so far, and the world is “within sight of ending deaths from malaria by 2015”, there is need to renew efforts at ensuring that the goal of eliminating the three dreaded diseases is achieved.

Of the projected $13 billion announced ahead of the Conference, pledges totaling US$11.68 billion were made by donor governments, private donors and religious bodies amongst others. Pledges are being expected from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, which are together projected to contribute $900 million.

That, with an expected pledge from Sweden, would bring contributions to $13 billion, the amount needed for programmes to be fully operational.

Conference organisers had sought $20 billion to continue and expand the Fund’s programmes in 145 countries over the next three years. The shortfall is likely to make some of the MDGs, including halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV & AIDS, unachievable by 2015.

The US led donors with a three-year pledge of $4 billion – a 38 percent increase over its previous contribution, but $2 billion short of what HIV/AIDS activists had been pushing the Obama administration to deliver.